Friday, June 12, 2015

No. 152 – June 11, 2015 – The Families of 9/11 Want to Know. Do you?

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Having lost people they loved to the horrific deaths viewed on television as the Towers fell, the families of those who died demanded to know who was responsible for the attacks. Although the event is now nearly fifteen years in the past the question remains open. But is it?

Andrew Kreig, attorney and independent journalist in Washington DC, today published an article outlining the political use made of the issue, beginning with the sequestering of a report written in 2002 which many believe would, if made available, answer many of the questions still lingering.

outlines the attempts on the part of Paul and his co-sponsors Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon, to achieve passage of a bill which would make the information public. Announcement of the attempt took place at a June 2 press conference on Capitol Hill which was attended by members of the 9/11 families.

The report, which is said to document the role of Saudi Arabia in funding 15 of the 19 terrorists responsible for the attacks is only 28 pages in length, but versions available are so heavily redacted as to render them meaningless.

Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) stood with Paul at the news conference on the 2nd. Graham co-chaired the 9/11 Joint Committee, co-authoring the report. At the time, in 2002, the three-term senator was also chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Children of the 9/11 victims, some of whom were babies at the time, are now demanding the release of the 28 page report as well.

Clearly, the identities of those who funded the terrorists remains relevant today, along with the reasons why such information would have been denied to the public for so long. America went to war over the issue of 9/11. Without funding, most believe there would have been no terrorist attacks possible.
Americans were lead into a series of wars based on information which the Bush administration knew to be false at the time the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were sold to the American people as necessary to stop terrorism.
We now know Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein, a former American CIA asset expressed willingness to leave Iraq, if paid. Do Americans want the facts? You bet they do. And they want it now.

Friday, June 5, 2015

No. 151 – June 4, 2015 – The Plains Truth – Santa Barbara Spills 1969 - 2015

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In 1968 Union Oil decided they needs a new kind of PR representative so they went into local schools to find boy scouts who would like to learn about the oil business. One young man, named David Lincoln, then fourteen, was useful to them the next year in the wake of the Santa Barbara Spill.

The PR Representative, who also made an unsuccessful run for State Senate from Compton, took Dave and a few other boys up to Santa Barbara to watch the clean-up. Young Dave, who had just turned fifteen, did a series of appearances on radio shows, reading a script he shared with the show host, presenting Union Oil as a responsible company, extremely concerned about the environment.

When Dave spoke those words he believed them. Men he respected had told him they were. A quiet boy, Dave enjoyed what he was learning about the technology of oil drilling. He was encouraged to make working for oil companies his career, which he did, taking the courses they recommended at USC, which was nearby for his degree in Geology.

Over the next 25 years Dave worked for oil companies on seven continents in increasingly responsible and well paid positions. He began to see many things which shocked him, but he continued to believe the industry cared about doing the right thing for people and the environment.

It was working directly with Ken Lay, CEO of Enron which changed his mind.

Dave was in charge of putting a pipeline across the island. Instead of building this through a pristine forest he tried to persuade Ken Lay to take a slightly longer, easier route. Lay's sneering comments about the the damage which would be done to the forest ended in Dave walking away from a six figure salary and returning to the US. There, he joined Green Peace, beginning an intense study of how the oil industry evaded accountability for the shocking damage to life and the environment Dave knew they were doing.

As an insider, Dave was able to expose them. As an expert witness in court Dave's testimony brought clarity to the systemic cover-ups they were carrying out to optimize their profits with no concern for human life. No oil company won when Dave was able to give testimony.

A showdown is finally coming. It will take place on the beach in Santa Barbara County. Get the popcorn ready.

Friday, May 29, 2015

No. 150 – May 28, 2015 – The Ghost of General Smedley Butler

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

General Butler, the most decorated American military figure of the first half of the 20th Century, wrote a book about his military service titled, “War is a Racket.” The corporate cabal, which reportedly included a du Pont and Prescott Bush, asked him to assist in removing FDR from office in 1934, were deceived by Butler's vocal criticisms of FDR, and unfamiliar with his belief his service to his country had actually made him an enforcer for the corporations. Smedley was alive to the impropriety of using America's military might to intimidate small central and south American countries for the profit of corporations controlled by these men.

Instead of handling their problem for these wealthy folks Smedley reported them to Roosevelt, who was well aware of the hazards of having the heads of houses of banking which included Morgan as well, arrested. FDR leaked word of the plan, which would have placed Butler in the White House, to the press.

This resulted in a Congressional investigation which achieved nearly as much as the Warren Commission would thirty years later. It was four years before the terrified men would publish their findings, marked for, “restricted circulation.” Sadly, the General, recipient of two Medals of Honor, died unexpectedly in 1940, just before our entry into World War II.

Charges conveyed by General Butler, which the committee confirmed, included the information a million people had agreed to join the insurrection using arms and munitions made available by a close associate of du Pont, Remington.

Many of those involved were still the heads of their various corporations when charges of doing business with German corporations during World War II surfaced. This continued to be true when departing president, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his speech warning Americans of the dangers they faced during his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961.

Nothing had changed when John Perkins published his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” in 2004. Perkins work ensured the continued flow of money from smaller and weaker nations into the same corporate interests who schemed to remove FDR in 1933 and who did remove JFK in 1963.

Since then occupiers of the Oval Office have been much less likely to make waves, understanding who is really in charge. Choosing between Jeb and Hillary is just picking between, “chocolate or strawberry.” They are both corporate ice cream, bad for us and America.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No. 149 – Hats, Friendship, and Looking Back

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In 2002 I had not yet met Mario – and he had not run into the enormous problem created intentionally by the mortgage industry to expedite foreclosures, using the housing market to create derivatives which could then be monetized, becoming an investment. Mario, whose training is in dress design of all kinds, solved his own problem and has helped thousands of other people keep their homes. He is that kind of guy, warm, compassionate, and determined.

Attorneys pay him to update them on foreclosures and how new case law is changing the outcome for many. Mario became obsessive on the subject and devoured law books when he realized how people were being harmed. Along with telling me about his work for people facing foreclosure Marion also mentioned to me in an off-handed way, he makes hats.

While I know any number of people who are struggling financially I only knew one other person with a passion for hats. Naturally, I introduced them. Tonight we chatted for nearly an hour tonight via conference call. Mario and Maggie got along like gang-busters.

Maggie once owned a hat shop and loved being a milliner. She is also in foreclosure herself. So, it was a very fertile conversation, so to speak. They are now planning a website to sell hats and help people facing foreclosure. Mario has shown many people how to handle their own cases. Good things.

Planning out deceptive behavior which takes people's homes should be a crime. Deceptive behavior is a problem in other instances as well.

I had just gotten around to reading “Rove Exposed,” by James Moore and Wayne Slater, published in 2006. But the story about Rove that arrested my interest was the sneak way he orchestrated the sale of invading Iraq. When it happened it was easy to forget the details, but in the book, there they were, with dates and who said what, documented and easy to understand.

But Slater and Moore left out the best part of the story. After the sales job done to persuade Americans Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in November, 2002 he contacted the Bush White House and offered to leave Iraq – if they just paid him. For me, the time line in “Rove Exposed” explained why Rove was so anxious to make sure Saddam did not go anywhere. And Saddam could never speak out.

Imagine that.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

No. 146 - April 30, 2015 – Ketchikan, Totem Poles, and Postcards

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Erika, from the Ketchikan Museum, emailed me using our contact form to ask about some of the images in their collection from the Gold Rush years in Alaska. The museum had, she told me, a number of images from Arthur C. Pillsbury, who had passed through the town on his way up to the mining fields with his cameras, including the circuit panorama camera he had designed and built while a senior at Stanford in 1897. He paused to record images of the totem poles and native people, as they worked and carried out their every day lives. These shots show the inside of native homes with the mixture of possessions of their own making along with objects manufactured elsewhere.

These images fascinate people today, showed a world now lost, and many of them have survived as post cards. While postal cards were in use from around 1851 the one penny post cards, privately printed, were only authorized by Congress on May 19, 1898.

The City of Ketchikan sponsors two museums, one for the largest existing collection of native totem poles and another for the history of their community stretching back to its founding in the 1880s to process the abundant salmon in the offshore waters.

The most southern town in Alaska, Ketchikan is also the earliest town, boasting a population of around 8,000 people, making it the tenth largest town in Alaska.

Today the Totem Heritage Center serves the town as a cultural center, a resource for appreciating and continuing the artistic traditions of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people.

Grandfather went to Alaska to record the opening of the mining fields. Once there, he became fascinated by its native population, caught in a transition enforced on them by the overwhelming influence of Western culture. Those images which remain are still compelling today.

As Grandfather traveled through Alaska he would sometimes leave a supply of glass negatives with a local merchant, starting a Pillsbury Studio to print more cards. Purchased and mailed, these traveled around the world.

His originals were lost on April 18, 1906 in the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. So, when one of his images turns up from places you would never expect each one is precious. And even now the number of images rediscovered is steadily increasing. I never know what to expect when I open an email. But it can be wonderful.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

No. 145 – April 23, 2015 – Snow Flakes, Heart Aches and Prayer

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

It's not that there were a lot of snow flakes today – it was having any of them still with us when Mother's Day is right around the corner and stories are starting to receive 4th of July merchandise. Of course, I'm from California and there we expect winter to last maybe a weekend. So I watched the snow flakes drift down for a while trying to make it to the ground. Our lives are like snow flakes, you know. Living can be tough, even when gravity is working with you instead of against you.

For all of us life is uncertain. Good and bad, things happen. That is one of the reasons I signed up to pray.

At St. Peter Church we have a Cycle of Prayer. Pat Hazeltine sends out the names of people who need our prayers and we send those prayers out to God for them. It is a wonderful experience to know you are not alone. As you pray, others are as well. We connect and grow.

There was a time when requests came in over the telephone, now we receive these via the internet. So sometimes I open my email box and there is a Prayer Request waiting for me. I always open them first. You never know what you will find. Sometimes you know the person; sometimes it is a complete stranger whose life you will touch – and it does not matter.

As Christians we know we are One in Christ and so praying for someone we will never meet, holding them in your mind and heart as you reach out for them in prayer, matters.

There are no rules for prayer. You pray for those who have died, those left to mourn and those struggling with the problems to which each of us are subject. Prayers are given for those who have made it through surgery and those facing any kind of hardship you can imagine.

Praying always makes me feel closer to Christ, that ineffable presence which is always there if we will put aside ego and receive Him.

Prayer brings insights to your own life as well. The act of praying breaks down the barriers within which life builds even without our knowing it. Prayer has become a path to self-discovery for me, and for millions.

Snowflakes and prayers. Unexpected blessings releasing us to more fully love one another.

Friday, April 17, 2015

No. 144 – April 17, 2015 – Bushnell, Zenger, and the Shot Heard 'Round the World

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
His last name was Bushnell, and if his voice had not been raised during jury deliberations in 1670 William Penn, who had defied the Crown and preached his Quaker faith, would not have lived to found Pennsylvania. Many in Ashtabula have roots in the former colony east of here, which he named.
Bushnell and his fellow jurors were confined and fined for their temerity when they defied the royal mandate to find Penn guilty. The lives of Penn and his friend, Mead, hung by two dissenting votes.
The judge sent the jury back three times to reconsider their verdict saying, “a verdict that the court will accept, and you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco....We will have a verdict by the help of God or you will starve for it."
It took a writ of Habeas Corpus to free the jurors, Penn and Mead. Penn came to the colonies and so was Pennsylvania founded.
The English tradition for the Common Law and the rights of the people to defy the dictates of authority again influenced the writing in 1735 during the trial of John Peter Zenger, who had defied the Royal Governor of New York and published the truth about him.
Zenger languished in prison for eight months before standing trial. But the publication of his newspaper continued, overseen by his wife.
Words, the truth, are the first defense against oppression. Disinformation and the suppression of truth destroy freedom. The Founders, who were certainly aware of both precedents, Penn and Zenger. They understood the nasty tendencies of government to use its power to stifle dissent and the truth.
The ratification of the Constitution hung in the balance as Mason traded with Madison and the deciding factor was the inclusion of the Bill of Rights that secured to each of us guarantees for the limitation of government power.
It is the ideas thus enshrined that connect us to the truth of America's Mission Statement. America is made up of people who are, themselves, the government. The truth matters.
Today, it is the suppression of the truth by authorities by redaction, evasion and deceit again threaten the essential freedoms won for us by our ancestors. We need the facts because truth is the foundation of freedom.
April 18th marks the 260th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Get the truth, it matters to each of us.

Friday, April 10, 2015

No. 143 – April 9, 2015 – Family History, Family Pride

By Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

My cousin, Peni Jo Renner, wrote a book last year about a mutual ancestor, Rebecca Eames. Titled, “Puritan Witch - The Redemption of Rebecca Eames,” the brief volume tells Rebecca's story as she is accused of witchcraft, tried, found guilty, and waits for the sentence of hanging to be carried out in a prison where, unless your family paid, you would be left to starve to death.

The books shines light new, and a very human light, on the a period of American history which has been detached from the descendants of those who lived it. By so doing the real roots of conflict were buried. Until Renner's book was published it was easy for many who do not share this heritage to fictionalize these very personal histories, providing salacious scenarios to those who were not touched by the morality story played out in the lives of a people who confronted an abuse of power by those who saw opportunity for profit. Using the gullibility of those around them significant transfers of property took place.

In 1649 law was passed which made witchcraft a capital offense, opening the door for the trials, which took place in 1692. After the accusation of a capital crime was made the property of the accused could be seized immediately. Asset forfeiture remains with us today.

Royal Governor William Phips released those imprisoned on February 21st, 1693. The reaction of the accusers was to beg for his protection from just retaliation. None occurred, these were lawful people, determined to do right.

For five generations there were no marriages between the descendants of the accursed and their accusers. They remembered. I suggest this baptism of pain awakened their descendants to the dangers inherent in the abuse of power.

What was the impact of these events on people who saw the ugliness play out and then lived with the aftermath in the same small communities for generations? How were their ideas about freedom, individual rights, and their relationship with God affected? Accusers and accused, how did it shape today for all of us?

Myself, I am proud to be a descendant of Mary Barker, twelve when she was imprisoned, and her cousin, George, thirteen. This history still has much to tell us about our world today.

What we take away from the experiences of life defines us and our descendants, if we remember. And read Puritan Witch.

Friday, April 3, 2015

No. 142 – April 2, 2015 – They Got Mail! The Back Channels Connecting Big Oil with Bush and Clinton

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Andrew Kreig's coverage of Hillary Clinton's secret email system, written in three parts, delves into the issues which he says provide,scant scrutiny of the most sinister implications for the public.” These are certainly riveting, named by Kreig as, “Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus 'Iran-Contra' Scandal, the Duplicity and Disloyalty by Gen. David Petraeus and the Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation/Hillary Clinton 2016 Funding.”
Enough there to generate multiple books and even conferences for journalists digging into the morass to extract hard evidence.
Kreig's book, “Presidential Puppetry,” as mentioned in his article on Clinton's mail system, “What's Important About Hillary Clinton's Emails,” ties back to a similar evasion of transparency for emails by Karl Rove during the Bush W. administration and then the revelations hacked into public sight by Romanian hacker, Marcel-Lehel Lazar of, “19 political intelligence memos totaling 66 pages from former 1990s Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal to Clinton between August 2012 and early February 2013.”
As the narrative marches back in time we encounter the covert involvement of the CIA in Benghazi and a plot of overthrown the Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have promoted the same kind of operations. Kreig neatly points to the similarity between Obama's training and arming of 'rebels' and the Iran-Contra run-running of the Reagan Administration.
Oil figures largely in the picture.
Ensuring actions which violate the law and are prohibited by Congress presents a probable need to ensure these actions do not come to the attention of the public. This is clearly a need for the individuals in all administrations since emailing began. This leads to the questions, “who wrote the email system used by Hillary? Was this her own system, used only by her? “
As you read through Kreig's article you find some names popping up or recognize that some individuals, for instance Karl Rove, have long understood the need for tight security when engaging in illegal actions, for instance, election fraud carried out so these same individuals could control the White House.
Is this a system which was written because some earlier event brought this vulnerability to the attention of a group of individuals, Democrats and Republicans, who realized it was necessary their convert communications had to be protected from public view? This had to have happened after communication by email became ubiquitous, say in the early 2000's.
Just asking.

Friday, March 27, 2015

No 142 – March 26, 2015 – Blow Back from the JFK Assassination

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Andrew Kreig, founder of the Justice Integrity Project, is not the first to point out the inconvenient truths surrounding the 1964 report of the Warren Commission. His continuing series of articles on the details contain a series of shocks which bring into high relief the falsehoods sold to the public by the major media. His book, Presidential Puppetry, has built out a picture of events both compelling and frightening.

Kreig has been thorough, building a monumental data base which, along with following the action, examines the impact of the assassination on American politics, those who report the news, and the many incidents following the death of JFK and continue to take place today.

Today most Americans, according to the polls, believe the Warren Commission Report mislead the public. The question of what happened on November 22, 1963 remains a hot topic, with between 1,000 and 2,000 books written on the subject.

People still care what happened. They still want to know; they still don't.

Bill O'Reilly was an ambitious young reporter when he lied about having been on George de Mohrenschildt's porch when the shots were fired which killed the man who was a friend of Lee Harvey Oswald. It was a dramatic claim disproved by audio tapes of only within the last several years.

Mohrenschildt was supposedly about to testify before congress that Oswald did not kill the President. Thereafter local authorities ruled the death a suicide. The chief counsel for the Congressional investigation, then ongoing, was replaced by one who deferred to the CIA. Bill O'Reilly also wrote a book, the best seller, Killing Kennedy. It accepts the facts as laid out by the Warren Commission.

From that day to now Kreig claims many parts of our lives have been impacted and the course of our history altered.

Now we know Oswald could not have acted alone. New forensic evidence indicates Kennedy was shot at least once from the front, twice from the back.
In 1963 Americans were more trusting of government. Americans, dissatisfied with what they get in print and on television seek news and facts online. Mislead on many issues a reaction has been building. This is one of the reasons the ratings for the Main Stream Media have been dropping.
Blow back is, “an unforeseen and unwanted effect, result, or set of repercussions.” Sometimes it is a long time coming, but it always arrives.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

No. 141 – March 19, 2015 – Jennifer MacLeod Asks Three Questions

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In the late 90s, Jennifer Macleod,PhD, a retired marketing executive in Princeton spoke to a group of girl scouts on equality for women. Still active in the chapter of NOW Jennifer started at Princeton in the early 1970s the scouts learned the ERA had failed ratification in 1982. They were moved to action and asked Ms. MacLeod for a project they could do as part of their scouting related to the Equal Rights Amendment. 
Jennifer, one of the first women through the glass ceiling, an expert in polling, made up a short questionnaire. She showed the girls how polling must be done to accurately reflect the opinions of those polled. 
There were three questions. Jennifer expected to find a sizable percentage of Americans opposed equality for women. Shocked, she discovered in every category those polled by the girl scout troop affirmed equality by around 96%.

The three questions were simple, answered with a YES or NO. 
Question 1: "In your opinion, should male and female citizens of the United States have equal rights?"
Question 2: "As far as you know, does the Constitution of the United States make it clear that male and female citizens are SUPPOSED to have equal rights?"
Question 3: "In your opinion, SHOULD the Constitution make it clear that male and female citizens are supposed to have equal rights?" 
By the late 90s most Americans believed the ERA was ratified. They are still wrong today.
The Constitution, the highest law in the land, does not recognize the equality of women today. 
For equality to be more than a provisional privilege an amendment to the existing Constitution must be ratified by 2/3 of the state legislatures. 
In 1972 everyone expected the 38 states required would rapidly ratify. Instead, it became a political football linked to issues having nothing to do with simple equality. The effort for ratification fell three states short when the deadline tolled in 1982. 
On March 5 this year the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a resolution asking Congress repeal the 1982 deadline. Other legislatures are following their lead. If Congress repeals the deadline the 15 states yet to ratify the ERA can consider the question anew and ratify. 
When that happens Americans will be finally be right about the ERA. Jennifer's questions and the girl scouts who asked the questions, are a big part of the reason this is happening now.

Friday, March 13, 2015

No. 140 – March 12, 2015 – Is It Spring Yet?

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

An exciting moment occurred when I went out to the car this morning and noticed the area where the snow had melted over night. Bending down to make sure my eyes were not deceiving me I grass. Several square inches of it. Amazing.

The tiny patch now visible was surrounded by extrusions of mud, which looked like mounds of chocolate. I learned when I was around 18 months that appearances in this regard can be deceptive. We all remember such moments, which teach us discernment. I looked closer. Definitely a new green, filled with life.

Since Ashtabula has been shrouded in snow which came down over and over again, each time leaving an uglier residue of brown and gray had I found myself wondering if spring would ever arrive – at least before the 4th of July. That faint touch of spring-green flattened, but triumphant despite the load of snow which weighed it down, provided the answer.

Spring comes in its own time, but it arrives bringing renewal of life and hope. Getting into the car I felt uplifted, as if a great weight had been lightened.

I know not to expect too much too soon. It will be some days before those first buds burst from the skeletal bushes and trees along the street. The dire piles of shrinking sludge must continue to melt into the soil and paving, sending water captured as snow many weeks ago on its way into the ground. But the Mud does not last for very long. Now, we can see past it to the rioting of flowers which seems to say, “all seasons bring gifts.”

When you see that first glorious daffodil you forget, like a mother after a three day labor first holding her baby close because what you hold is so essential to the journey of seasons, and years which comprises the whole of our lives as individuals.

Watching a flower bloom, first unfolding from the enclosing green to reveal its colors and scent touches us, reprising as it does, our own journey from someplace to here. Watching the full cycle of life, the wilting and curling into itself, also carries its message.

The whole of life carries in each part messages for each of us. What do you see first? What is your own experience? What have the seasons said, tiny whispers in your ear, as you discovered them?

Friday, March 6, 2015

No. 139 – March 5, 2015 – Visas, Terrorists, and a new book.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Andrew Kreig's book reviews are always to the point and chock full of carefully honed points bolstered with facts. You can count of this when reading his work because his training is both in law, he is a licensed attorney in Washington D.C., and journalism. Andrew takes up subjects many won't touch.
This being the case I ordered my copy of, “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World — An Insider's View,” by J. Michael Springmann, former State Department foreign service officer immediately. 
If Andrew says a book is going to be shocking and timely, and make a, “credible circumstantial case that ties the U.S. training of Islamic radicals to our nation’s major foreign policy disasters in the Mideast during the past quarter century,” it is a book to read, given how many emails on the subject are coming through my Inbox on the subject. 
Andrew's review provided direct quotes from author Springmann, former chief of the visa section of the U.S. Consulate located in Saudi Arabia, who last week launched his book tour at the prestigious National Press Club in D.C. 
Springmann said, ““It’s past time to expose murder, war crimes and human rights violations by the United States of American and its ‘intelligence’ services.” Continuing, Springman, said claiming “national security,” as a justification was dubious. 
These claims have been made by both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency (NSA). Springmann said these agencies were responsible for coups and destabilization acts around the world, “most notably,” in the middle east. 
Springmann says governments were overthrown, assassinations carried out and ordinary citizens murdered on their orders. This chain of events began, he continued, with the Carter Administration. These acts took place, Springmann says, with the knowledge of the president of the United States and the executive branch but also our two other branches of government,“from Libya to Iran.” 
Springmann knows because he personally saw “illegal visas issues to large numbers of U.S.-backed Islamic fundamentalists transiting through Jeddah from multiple Islamic nations so they could visit the United States for secret purposes.” Covert training took place at a CIA facility in Williamsburg, Virginia for “vagabond Islamic mercenaries, revolutionists and jihadists — an "Arab-Afghan Legion" — who could be unleashed on America’s enemies.”

Blowback was not taken into account but deniability was ensured. Today, when war has become continuous, this is a book you need to read.

Friday, February 27, 2015

No. 138 – February 26, 2015 – A Lenten Visit to the Ninth Commandment

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

Lent is a time to examine our values and how we express these with action. The Ten Commandments have been a tool for examining values for thousands of years. They make a great tool for seeing our own values in new ways. In this first week of Lent I was drawn to consider the Ninth Commandment and what light it can shed on human behavior today.

Bearing false witness means lying about someone. Usually, the lie defames and misrepresents the target, making them vulnerable for further attacks. Bullying often includes bearing false witness. The person who is defamed is less able to defend themselves because many people will draw back from contact, increasing the vulnerability of the individual to more abuse. Others watching may also join in attacking the targeted person. We see this taking place with children today but adults react the same way.

The individual defamed is often bewildered. They may never know what was said about them. And because they do not know they cannot refute the lies and defend themselves. More attacks can then come from unexpected directions instigated either by the original liar or by those drawn in to participate.

So, why do people of all ages accept malicious lies as the truth? There are lots of motives. Participants can experience a sense of false righteousness. It is easy and satisfying to demean someone made vulnerable. All too few pause to question the stories told them.

What do you do when you hear a shocking or unflattering story about someone you know?

Have you ever gone to them and explained what you heard and listened to their response?Most people will not do this, but they should. Have you repeated unsubstantiated stories about others? As we have seen with young teenagers lies can kill and traumatize. It is not true that little harm can be done.

Perhaps you were persuaded by the vehemence and anger exhibited by the slanderer and decided the person slandered did was undeserving of defense. This is equally a sin because we can know the truth if we question the lie and ask the target.

Our Savior told us to love one another. Part of loving is caring enough to hear both sides of the story.

In this Lenten season reflect on each Commandment and check how well you really keep it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

No. 137 – February 19, 2015 – Sonja is worried about bomb trains.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

My friend, Sonja Loll, mentioned she was noticing lines of tank cars on the railroad lines running through Ashtabula. Sonja is worried, as are a growing number of people across the country who are becoming aware of the hazard posed by the transport of Bakken and Tar Sands across the towns and population centers of America.

In the last two weeks the number of incidents of violent explosions which caused evacuations, injuries, shut down water-treatment plants and sent oil seeping into rivers has sent shock waves through the media into a public which previously ignored the potential for death and destruction.

The cause of these events, marking February of 2015 as a warning to be heeded, is the desire by corporations to optimize profits by ignoring maintenance, the costs of the disasters caused, these paid by ordinary people and by government.

The series of spills began with a toxic event in Igualada, a town in the Spanish province of Catalonia. Residents were told to stay inside until the toxic cloud of noxious material dissipated. 40,000 people were impacted.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency, which cost will be underwritten by the state, including the same taxpayers from two towns forced to flee. The medical impact of residents will, if the company follows its past strategy, will be denied, minimized, and swept under the rug.

Two more derailments occurred in South Carolina.

Another disturbing fact, also now rippling though the public consciousness, is that the tank cars involved in West Virginia were not the widely used older types, known to be vulnerable, but the newer model which were to replace them.

When explosions occur the fire ball can incinerate areas for a long way, as witnessed in Lac Megantic in July of 2013. 47 people are known to have died. The town remains in shock. The corporations involved refuse to accept any responsibility.

Lac Megantic was a small town with a railroad line running through it, not so different from Ashtabula – except here there are far more railroad lines.

Along with the continued threat of bomb trains America also must confront the 2.5 million miles of pipelines, much of it deteriorating. And the Kochs, who are infamous for ignoring maintenance, are determined to spent 900 million to elect a Congress they can most firmly control.

Sonja is right to be worried, we all should be.

Friday, February 13, 2015

No. 136 - February 12, 2015 – Yellowstone – Benzene, Cancer, and Accountability

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Another toxic spill took place into the Yellowstone River on January 17 of this year. It was not the first. An earlier break took place several years ago. 
The break occurred, according to Bridger Pipeline, LLC, at 10a.m. The company shut down the pipeline at 11am.

It is in the first hour after a break the most toxic materials escape. This includes Benzene, a carcinogen which may cause cancer. Bridger announced only 300 – 1,200 oil barrels had been spilled into the riber. State estimates the spill as 50,000 US gallons of spilled oil. Benzene was ten to fifteen parts per billion. An EPA official commented that, "anything above five parts per billion is considered a long-term risk."

It was two days later, January 19th, that 6,000 people from the nearby town of Glendive were told not to use the town's municipal waterdue to the elevated levels of benzene which had percolated through the Yellowstone River and into their tap water. The city supplied bottled water to residents for four days, declaring the municipal water safe on January 23.

Paul Peronard, an employee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told residents to open their taps and run the water to flush out residual contamination. Peronard also said, If it doesn’t smell anymore you have cleaned it out, you’re good. Citizens can start drinking it...”

The level at which Benezene is known to be dangerous is five parts per billion. Most people can smell Benzene at levels of 60,000 parts per billion.

Following Peronard's advice Glendive resident Roseann Koepke ran the taps in her trailer home Thursday after her landlord told her the contamination had been cleared. She turned off the water after the strong smell of oil gave her a headache. Unaware of the facts about Benzene Koepke said, “I ran it for about ten minutes and had to open up the door for five minutes to get the smell out,” she said. “My God, did I end up getting a headache.”

Ms. Koepke said she would try again.

In no instance has an oil company monitored the outpou​ring of deadly gases in the first hour. Under estimating the size of the spill, failing to provide medical services to impacted residents, or even pay for their drinking water is also standard operating procedure for oil companies as is neglecting to provide H​azmat protection for workers. Get the picture?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No. 135 – February 5, 2015 – Questioning all Propaganda

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Today, Andrew Kreig, author of “Presidential Puppetry,” is challenging a 'false flag' from the era of the Vietnam Conflict which slipped into history as an authentic reactions to ongoing events.

On April 19, 1969 80 plus African-American students at Cornell University seized the student center 24 hours after a fire alarms going off resulted in the discovery of a burning cross on campus at Wari House, a cooperative residential unit for black women. Close to a dozen false alarms took place elsewhere on campus but no one was injured.

The building was occupied for 36 hours before the armed protesters emerged. The resulting photos, shocking at the time, entered our collective memory as iconic images of the 1960s era of student protest.

But black students, themselves, burned the cross, invoking a racist symbol where none had existed.

Kreig challenges each of us to decide if creating news by manipulation is to be tolerated. Do we tolerate such incidents if they further the aims of movements when we sympathize? Or do we exact the same standards for everyone?

Kreig covered the story as a student reporter, not then realizing the truth until former Cornell Daily Sun editor-in-chief and Washington Post Alumnus Stan Chess revealed the facts last month for the first time.

The students who planned and carried out the cross burning and then the occupation also woke the parents of students then staying in Willard Straight Hall, the student union. Although the incident ended peacefully it did not end without acrimony. Some faculty, alumni and political commentators were outraged at the leniency of the treatment according the protesters. Some of the supposed radicals who had planned the false flag went on to mainstream careers.

And coverage of the event continued to reverberate.

Kreig himself wrote an essay on the event, as originally understood, which was included as one of the first chapters in a book, titled, A Century At Cornell, published about the University by the Sun. The chapter, “The End of a Bizarre Era ” covered the occupation's historical importance.

Two of Kreig's professors, Walter Berns and Allan Bloom, resigned from the University because of the lenient punishments accorded the student protesters, who had emerged armed from their occupation of the Student Union. Berns and Bloom found careers in politics in what would become the NeoConservative movement.

What do you think? Do we tolerate propaganda, or not?

No. 134 – January 29, 2015 - Wyoming Passes Regulation Freedom Amendment

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
"I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution..... taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing." - Thomas Jefferson

Many are unaware that it was action by 2/3 of the states which helped force Congress to propose, and pass, the Bill of Rights. This exercise of power by the states fell into disuse and America moved toward a Federal government which exercised far more power than originally envisioned by our Founders.

Today, when many are looking for ways to curb Federal power the application of what has already worked has a strongl attraction. Advocates say they are moved by the need to restore accountability and balance in Washington.

Today, 2/3 of the states, if they agree on a specific Amendment could force Congress to propose the “Regulation Freedom” Amendment. Which reads, “Whenever one quarter of the Members of the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate transmit to the President their written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation, it shall require a majority vote of the House and Senate to adopt that regulation.”
Passage by the Wyoming House of Representatives of a bipartisan vote, 51-9, was passed to make the will of the people known to Congress. Wyoming was not the first state to pass the measure, which has also been passed in Arizona, as Regulation Freedom Amendment, SCL 1005, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Barto. Other states, including Indiana and Georgia have recently passed similar measures.

Governors of two states and more than 200 state legislators plus the 6 million member American Farm Bureau now support the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

Each of these Resolutions urges Congress to propose the "Regulation Freedom Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution to require that Congress approve major new federal regulations. These Resolutions are steps in the process of passage for the proposed Amendment but also open up the political process to more direct control by the people through their state legislatures.

The movement, which includes Regulation Freedom and the Madison Amendment is the brain child of Roman Buhler, an attorney and formerly counsel for the U. S. House of Representatives, from 1989 to 2003.

Buhler has also proposed the Madison Initiative, which gives States the same power as Congress to propose individuals amendments to the United States Constitution. Many view this as the better avenue for cutting back the growth of Federal power, avoiding a new Constitutional Convention.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No. 133 – January 22, 2015 – Corporations make out like bandits

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

What if Koch Industries offered burial insurance as a benefit for temporary employees doing clean up on toxic spills, a common need in the petroleum industry? You might think, well at least they are being given something!

Wait. Let's consider for a moment what happened to the low level employees who cleaned up the Valdez Spill which took place on Prince William Sound, Alaska, March 24, 1989. According to Susan Shaw, a toxicologist, these cleanup workers have all died. This gave them a life span of 52 years when the average life expectancy in America is 78.

Quite a difference there. That is an average loss of 26 years of life, which is deceptive because people struggle with a range of conditions after being exposed to toxic waste which drains them, and their families as they struggle and die.

How much is a year of your life worth? Shaw estimates 150,000 clean up workers were involved in the BP gulf spill. Due to the huge amounts of Corexit dispersant used together with the close contact they may fare worse than the Valdez workers.

Now, let's look again at the practice of insuring low level employees, a practice generally referred to as taking out 'peon insurance.'

Insuring the lives of low level employees by corporations is carried out routinely today. Premiums are paid on the policy. The employee is oblivious. He or she can be fired or quit but corporation keeps paying until the employee dies. Then, a check is cut by the insurance company and sent to the corporation which made the payments.

Many have been outraged that the family of the dead employee did not get a portion of the money paid out. But the real issue is that using insurance policies allows corporation to avoid paying taxes. This is a corporate tax dodge. The corporation borrows the money to pay the premiums. The interest on such money used to pay premiums is tax-deductible. The eventual payout is tax-exempt.

Employees, in most industries, are not harmed or benefited by the action of the corporation. Not true for cleanup workers.

Would the Kochs do this?

In their case the cleanup worker loses 26 years, or more, of life and Koch Industries gets the insurance payout and the tax-exemption on their premiums. If they are feeling generous the Kochs provide a burial.

The question should be are they doing this yet?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No. 132 – January 15, 2015 – Bowling, Bread and Economics

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Fred Fish at work, Perry's Automotive
Sir Flinders Petrie discovered bowling artifacts in an Egyptian tome dating the game to 3200 B. C. in the 1930s. The game was being played in Germany in 300 A. D. and popular in England in 1366 A. D.

English, Dutch and German settlers brought their own variations of the game to America. Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle awakens to the sound of "crashing ninepins." in 1819.

Arguably, the first permanent American bowling place, for lawn bowling, was in New York's Battery area, now in the heart of the financial district. The small plot is still called Bowling Green.

But ten pin bowling did not take off as a major sport in America until the 1950s, following the introduction of the first rubber ball, the "Evertrue" in 1905 and Gottfried Schmidt's automatic pinspotter. Owners of bowling establishments were no longer dependent on "pinboys."

Playing a game cost 25 cents. Renting bowling shoes was a dime. The rate of inflation on the cost of bowling from 1955 to 2014 has been 781.2%.

The subject came up during the hour and 15 minutes I waited for a City Taxi Cab to arrive at Perry's Automotive the other day. On the wall was an article from the Star Beacon chronicling the first 300 game of 1974 played by Fred Fish at Lake Shore Lanes. Fred works at Perry's. Fred said he no longer bowls because of the cost, remembering the four games for a dollar he paid in 1974.

According to the cumulative rate of inflation if Lake Shore's management had raised their prices along with other costs of living the price for those four games would be $4.79, with a rate of inflation of 379.0%. Lake Shore on occasion offers all you can bowl coupons for $10.

Fred gave up bowling.

America went off the gold standard in 1913 with the establishment of the Federal Reserve, whose stated goal was to provide stable prices. In 1913 a loaf of bread cost about a nickle. Today it costs about $1.45.

In 1776 when Thomas Jefferson bought a loaf of bread it cost the same as it did when J. P. Morgan bought a loaf a century later, about a nickle. The price had not changed. The value of the dollar increased 11% from 1776 to 1912, 136 years.

So, where did the money for bowling go? When you find out tell Fred.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

No. 131 – January 8, 2015 – Dancing with David Koch

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

- “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am
an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free
environment.” ~Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater was a real conservative. If you are a Libertarian today you should know most of us who poured our energy and hard earned money into building the Libertarian Party had supported Barry for president in 1964. The fact was being a Conservative who understood the issues of social justice was what made you a Libertarian, a conservative just like Barry.

Barry believed a Conservative was someone who opposed wars carried out for corporate profit and not in defense of America.

In Barry's mind a Conservative believed you did not, “have to be straight to aim straight,” to serve in the military.

Barry and his wife were early supporters of a woman's right to choose. It was not about approving of abortion. It was about acknowledging it was none of his business because women own their bodies.

And in Barry's mind those engaging in commerce assumed the entire liability for damages done as a result of their actions. No preferences for those who donate heavily to political campaigns. No buying votes, either in Congress or at the 1979 Libertarian National Convention.

In 1979 the Kochs bought votes so they could control the Libertarian nomination for President and Vice President. Their agents in this included Edward H. Crane, III, Howie Rich, and John Fund, among others. The campaign they ran for president ignored the real issues of freedom. Many of us were shocked to hear the rhetoric of freedom, our ideas, coming from the mouth of Ronald Reagan who, Californian's knew, had done more to eliminate local governance and centralize state power than had ever been imagined by an Liberal Democrat.

The United Republicans of California had trusted Ronnie. In 1975 they passed a resolution at their state convention begging Americans not to vote for Reagan if he ran for President or Vice President.

Ronnie lied. He lied himself into the presidency as he had lied himself into the governorship of California.

And that, in a nutshell, is the Brothers Koch and the entire Big Oil industry for which they set the moral and business standards.

Calling something 'Free Enterprise' does not make it so - and David was a terrible dancer.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

No. 130 – January 1, 2015 – Dave Lincoln says he will Stop the Keystone Pipeline.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Dave was recruited by Union Oil when he was fourteen in 1969. The Santa Barbara Oil Spill had taken place. It was a public relations disaster for the entire industry.

At the time, Dave planned to be an astronomer. This changed when Union Oil's 'scouting representatives' walked into his class, announcing they were looking for 'young scientists' to participate in an exciting program and teach them about the future of modern technology.

At the time, Dave was completing his work to become an Eagle Scout. He was a natural recruit to sell the good intentions of Union Oil. Scripts of well-honed lies were provided to Dave and his fellow recruits.

Dave was a trusting kid, excited by the attention and promised opportunities. Union Oil took over his life. In college they decided which classes he would take and how his time would be spent. During summer vacation he worked for them, carrying out highly responsible work. He never made a mistake twice.

Twenty years later Dave Lincoln had worked for every major oil company on every continent. He was earning a six figure salary, handling relations with foreign nations, and locating oil reservoirs and planning pipelines. But he still believed it was his duty to ensure the environment was not harmed.

He had started writing reports showing corporate management how problems could be handled without causing harm.

In 1996, sitting in a high level management meeting on a Nuclear Power Plant for India he heard Ken Lay, Enron President, say, “if they don’t like the way we conduct our business we'll just replace their politicians.” Lay continued, “If those people in India didn’t like the price we charge for electricity we can have the State Dept. and the US Army explain it to them.”

These same strategies were outlined in John Perkin's book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

Dave walked away from his job. Returning to the US he discovered environmental groups, and those who ran them, were also focused on their bottom line. Most receive huge funding from Big Oil. But Dave was able to stop irresponsible development when, and where, he was allowed to do so.

The Keystone is uneconomic, poised to produce oil at $70 when Saudi Arabia can do it for $10. Can Dave stop the Keystone? One man against Big Oil with the power of billions of dollars behind them? Watch and find out.